The chorus introduces the play, and tells the audience that two families in Verona have reignited an ancient feud. Two lovers, one from each family, commit suicide after trying to run away from their families. The loss of their children compels the families to end the feud.
Act One, Scene One
The servants of the Capulets are on the street waiting for some servants of theMontague's to arrive. When they do, Samson from the Capulets bites his thumb at them, essentially a strong insult. Abraham from the Montague's accepts the insult and the men start to fight.
Benvolio, Romeo's cousin, enters and makes the men stop fighting by drawing his own sword. Tybalt, Juliet's cousin, then also enters the street. Seeing Benvolio, he too draws his sword and enters the fight.
OldCapulet runs onto the stage and demands a sword so that he too may fight. His wife restrains him, even when Old Montague emerges with his sword drawn as well. The Citizens of the Watch have put up a cry, and manage to get Prince Escalus to arrive. The Prince chides them for three times before causing the street of Verona to be unsafe. He orders them to return home, and personally accompanies theCapulets.
The Montagues and Benvolio remain on stage. They ask Benvolio why Romeo was not with him, and he tells them Romeo has been in a strange mood lately. When Romeo appears, the Montagues ask Benvolio to find out what is wrong, and then depart. Romeo informs Benvolio that he is in love with a woman named Rosaline who wishes to remain chaste for the rest of her life, which is why he is sodepressed.
Act One, Scene Two
Paris pleads with Capulet to let him marry Juliet, who is still only a girl of thirteen. Capulet tells him to wait, but decides to allow Paris to woo her and try to win her heart. He then tells his servant Peter to take a list of names and invite the people to a masked ball he is hosting that evening.
Peter meets Romeo on the street, and being unable to read,asks Romeo to help read the list for him. Romeo does, and realizes that the girl he loves, Rosaline, will be attending this party. Peter tells him that it will be held at Capulet's house, and that he is invited if he wishes to come. Both Benvolio and Romeo decide to go.
Act One, Scene Three
Lady Capulet asks the Nurse to call for Juliet. She does, and then tells Lady Capulet that Juliet will befourteen in under two weeks. She then digresses and speaks of how Juliet was as a child, causing both Juliet and her mother embarassment.
The mother tells Juliet that Paris has come to marry her. She then describes Paris as being beautiful, and compares him to a fine book that only lacks a cover. Juliet does not promise anything, but agrees to at least look at the man that night at dinner.Act One, Scene Four
Romeo, Mercutio and Benvolio are making their way to the masked party. Romeo is still depressed, even though he gets to see Rosaline. Mercutio tries to cheer him up by telling a story about Queen Mab, a fictitious elf that infiltrates men's dreams. Romeo finally shushes him and comments that he is afraid of the consequences of going to this party.
Act One, Scene Five
Romeostands to the side during the dancing, and it is from this spot that he first sees Juliet. He immediately falls in love with her. Tybalt overhears Romeo talking to a servingman and recognizes him as Romeo Montague by his voice. However, before Tybalt can creat a scene, Old Capulet tells him to leave Romeo alone, since it would look bad to have a brawl in the middle of the festivities.
Romeofinds Juliet and touches her hand. They speak in sonnet form to one another, and Romeo eventually gets to kiss her. However, Juliet is forced to go see her mother. The Nurse tells Romeo that Juliet is a Capulet, at which he is startled.
Juliet finds her Nurse at the end of the party and begs her to find out who Romeo is. The Nurse returns and tells her he is Romeo, the only son of the Montague...